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Mazda backs future of diesel engine

Keeping the faith: Supercharged compression-ignition technology will find its way into Mazda’s next-generation diesel-powered models.

Hi-tech SkyActiv-X oil-burner up next as Mazda keeps faith in diesel engines

Mazda logo8 Sep 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MAZDA has revealed that its next-generation SkyActiv-X diesel engine due in 2019 will more than meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations while improving efficiency and driveability by a substantial margin.

According to Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC) managing executive officer in charge of powertrain and vehicle development and product planning, Ichiro Hirose, the level of advancement that the forthcoming SkyActiv-X diesel engine shows over the existing version is at least in the region of 30 per cent.

“In terms of improvement, there is still a lot more that – in terms of diesel and petrol – that can be had,” Mr Hirose told GoAuto at Mazda’s global technology forum in Frankfurt last week.

“We still have a lot of potential and we are progressing in development as we speak with the diesel.

“If we look at our history, we introduced the SkyActiv-G which had the equivalent fuel economy as the diesel engine that was available in the market at the time, then we introduced the SkyActiv-D and that pulled ahead.

“So now we have introduced this (SkyActiv-X) and the gasoline is the same fuel economy as the diesel, so next time the diesel will have an equally big move forward.”

With the future of diesel engines under a cloud as opposition forces have gained momentum in recent months – particularly in Europe and the UK, where millions of vehicles are being updated in a bid to cut emissions – Mazda had not, up until now, confirmed it would continue to develop its SkyActiv-D range of diesels.

However, MMC believes the anti-diesel sentiment should centre on commercial vehicle and public transport applications, rather than passenger cars, since the latter contribute only a fraction of the emissions.

“We need to think about what works in the real world,” Mr Hirose said. “This is Mazda’s way of doing things.”

Mazda’s success with diesel has been unprecedented since the latest-generation SkyActiv-D powertrains were released with the original CX-5 in 2012. Demand in Japan has been especially surprising, with 70 per cent of orders for the latest KF series currently going to the oil-burner.

In the Mazda3/Axela, that figure is hovering around a third of all volume, while the CX-3 has only recently been available with the 1.5-litre SkyActiv-D in its domestic home market.

Despite the ongoing ‘dieselgate’ scandal, Mazda is about to introduce the CX-5 diesel in North America.

“We have the technology to meet or exceed emissions requirements with our clean diesel so why not?” Mr Hirose said.

Mazda discontinued the diesel-powered Mazda3 XD in Australia in the middle of last year when the facelifted model arrived, citing falling sales.

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